Leapai aims for No.1 in second coming

EIGHT years ago Brisbane heavyweight Alex Leapai was given a second chance at life.

After a six-month stint in jail for assault, the Samoan-born truckie used his new-found freedom to relaunch his fighting career.

Fast forward to April 27 and the 110kg powerhouse will fight Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko in a bid to become Australia's first world heavyweight champion.

The new No.1 contender defeated Russian Denis Boytsov last November to set up the historic bout in Germany.

At a press conference at the summit of Mt Coot-tha in Brisbane yesterday, he confirmed he would take on reigning champion Klitschko

Leapai's journey to get on to the world stage from the lows he experienced after his jail sentence back in 2005 has been a remarkable one.

He put on 20kg during his prison time as he reached rock-bottom after seeing his parents break down in the court room.

"I saw mum and dad crying and thought 'hang on, I gotta do something'," he told APN.

"But suddenly the Lord put me back here on this track and somehow I fell back into boxing and I didn't know what talent I had.

"Things happen for a reason and I went and grabbed my second chance with two hands."

Leapai admits he is shy of the limelight that surrounds professional boxers but he has a duty to make his family and his fans in Australia and his native Samoa proud.

"To be honest, it (the fame) is not my thing but I'm letting the world know I'm here to fight," he said.

"I don't want to let my parents down after what they've been through. That's what keeps me going.

"I've got six kids. And I've done some bad things in life, but to get here is the icing on the cake and proof that you can change."

Leapai's trainer, Noel Thornberry, said he believed his charge has come a long way since his stint behind bars.

"He's totally different," he said. "Back then it was a dour, horrible time. He was disappointed and he put on 20 kilos in jail.

"Strength of mind and self-belief are incredibly powerful tools and he's got those.

"He's been preparing for this for so long and run countless kilometres with me talking about this moment."

Despite Leapai being at long odds to beat a multiple belt-wearing super champion and legend of the sport, everyone in his camp believes he can get a knockout victory.

"He has the style to beat Klitschko," Thornberry said.

"Klitschko cannot handle his power - it doesn't matter how good he is, he cannot handle his power."


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